a high note
After a recent brief stopover in Dubai, we had a second, longer, stopover for recreation and tourism. I have to admit I am now fascinated by the place and the manic pace at which it continues to expand.
Copyright means right to copy
Punjab University teachers, now under cloud, have not denied copying, they've only denied plagiarism. A blow by blow account of how the issue has unfolded in the last one year
By Aoun Sahi
The prestigious Punjab University is once again in the headlines for the publication of plagiarised articles in international research journals by some of its faculty members.
The Dean Faculty of Science, Professor Dr Mujahid Kamran, was the person who pointed out to the university administration in April last year that the director of the Centre for High Energy Physics (CHEP) and at least four faculty members of the same centre were involved in plagiarism. They had published a research article in September 2002 in the science journal, titled 'Science in Africa', that was plagiarised from an article of European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), Geneva website, he says.
Dr Kamran also brought this to the notice of 'Science in Africa' as well as CERN.
Taking strong notice, the CERN administration wrote back to the Vice Chancellor University and Chairman Higher Education Commission of Pakistan on May 3, 2006. John Ellis, advisor to the CERN director general for relationships with non-member states wrote, "According to my personal reading of both articles, about 90 percent of the later article by four of your faculty members is identical, word for word, with large segments of the earlier article written by our former Director-General. I see no original idea or synthesis in the later article by your faculty members. Prof. Llewellyn Smith's article contains 19 references to previous academic literature, whereas the article by your faculty members refers to no other articles."
Later, the American Institute of Physics (AIP) also issued retraction of at least three research articles of different faculty members of CHEP including Prof Dr Fazal-e-Aleem, former director and Dr Haris Rasheed, the new director, for reasons of not citing the original sources in their research papers.
Under immense pressure from international research organisations and the Higher Education Commission (HEC), the Punjab University Vice Chancellor formed a three-member committee under the chairpersonship of Prof Dr Shahida Hasnain, Dean Faculty of Life Science, on May 10, 2006 to probe the matter. The committee found that four faculty members of CHEP were guilty of plagiarism.
"The fault committed by the abovementioned teachers has also been admitted by themselves," the report states. The committee recommended major penalty for the accused in accordance with the Efficiency and Disciplinary Rules, Act of the University of the Punjab, 1973.
The committee found that Prof Dr Fazal-e-Aleem was also involved in plagiarism but it noted: "Since the Committee is comprised of 3 members and 2 Committee members out of 3 are placed in BPS-20, whereas the accused, namely Prof Dr Fazal-e-Aleem, has been placed in BPS-21, the committee is not competent to probe into the matter. It is, therefore, suggested that an authorized officer be appointed to proceed against the accused."
The university administration did not follow the recommendations of the committee regarding four junior teachers of CHEP and formed a new three-member committee headed by Prof Dr Dil Mohammad, Dean Faculty of Law, to probe into the matter in mid-September 2006.
Till then the HEC had taken a very strong stance on the issue and directed the university administration to show 'zero tolerance' against teachers who defamed Pakistan and its educational institutions on the international level.
According to Dr Mujahid Kamran, Dean Faculty of Science, it seemed that the university administration was all set to save the plagiarists.
"They completely ignored the HEC advice and the syndicate, the highest level decision-making body in Punjab University, on its April 2, 2007 meeting, recommended minor penalties against the accused on the basis of the second inquiry report," he told TNS.
For its part, the syndicate asked Dr Fazal-e-Aleem to give up the directorship of the Centre and issue a warning to the four faculty members, aside from withholding their two annual increments. However, it was learnt that Prof Dr Aleem's tenure as CHEP director had already ended in October 2006 but he was allowed to carry on with his duties till further orders. He was also allowed to continue to serve as Director General School of Physical Sciences of the varsity.
The inquiry report on the basis of which this decision has been taken by the syndicate is a very interesting document. In Article 20 of the 32-page long report, the committee states that it found itself in an awkward and difficult situation because of various reasons. One of the reasons cited is "media hype (that) has been created through judgmental reporting," while according to the other, "most of the information is based on e-mails: We are not sure as to what is evidentiary value of such mails."
The inquiry committee also quoted many definitions of plagiarism from different sources and according to them Wikipedia provides the most elaborate and useful information regarding plagiarism. Everyone knows how reliable a source Wikipedia really is and if the committee does not know the evidentiary value of e-mails, how justified is it to quote something from the internet to prove their case is a legitimate question asked by many.
In Article 65, the inquiry committee writes, "... moreover, plagiarism as 'moral wrong' has to be judged according to the moral standards of the society and, as every society has its own standards, the cultural and moral diversity will result in diverse treatment of the subject in different parts of the world."
Dr Sohail Naqvi, Executive Director HEC, shows concern on the inquiry committee report and reacts strongly on the issue. "We are not ready to buy this statement which is meant to prove that we as a society allow such activities," he told TNS on telephone.
The findings submitted by the inquiry committee to the syndicate further state: "The members of the inquiry committee are quite clear about the fact that there has been copying on the part of the accused teachers. They, too, have generally not denied copying, but they have denied plagiarism saying that all copying is not plagiarism; plagiarism means impermissible copying. But it is not possible to determine whether the acts of the said teachers are permissible or culpable, in the absence of legal parameters/guidelines. It would only be possible when the issues highlighted earlier are properly settled. Therefore, we leave it to the competent authority to deal with the matter in the light of law and facts of the case."
The word 'law' is very important in the findings of the report as the committee has proved in the inquiry report that no specific law is found in Pakistan to deal with this issue.
"The evil act of plagiarism can be dealt with under the general law (Torts) as passing off, i.e. misuse of another person's intellectual work against which an aggrieved person can file a suit in the court and seek compensation," states Article 58 of the inquiry report.
According to the report, "the copyright law also does not comprehensively cover plagiarism."
In the light of 'these findings', the committee recommends that the aggrieved persons can approach the relevant court for adjudication.
In the meantime, the HEC has announced to stop funding for the Punjab University. "The HEC will not provide any funding to the university until it takes required action against the plagiarists which, by simple international standards, is removal from service," says a statement issued by HEC Chairman Dr Attaur Rehman.
According to Dr Sohail Naqvi, "This is a case of serious misconduct on the part of university teachers and they should not be allowed to teach."
He thinks that the PU's decision has tarnished the image of the country. "The HEC is continuously receiving e-mails from different parts of world, criticising the university for taking a soft stance against plagiarists."
The HEC is now planning to send a request to the governor of Punjab, who is also the chancellor of the university, to ensure stern action against plagiarists.
The Punjab Education Department has supported HEC's stance on the issue, according to Naqvi.
"It has been decided that a list should be pasted on the HEC website which should give the names, designations and other information of the proven plagiarists.
"The Commission has approved the acquisition of anti-plagiarism software that will help checking publications and research reports coming from higher education institutions."
According to Punjab University Registrar Prof Dr Naeem Khan, the syndicate found that neither the university calendar nor any government legislation prescribes penalty against such activities. "In the absence of the proper terms of references and in the absence of any specific legislation the syndicate took lenient action against the teachers involved in copying," he tells TNS.
To discourage such activities in future the syndicate has issued directions to all deans and heads of departments to include guidelines on plagiarism in PHD courses. "Prof Dr Dil Mohammad Malik has been given the task to formulate guidelines for the purpose. We will also follow guidelines from HEC in future," he says.
Professor Dr Khawaja Haris Rasheed, director CHEP, strongly condemns HEC for 'pressurising' and 'blackmailing' the Punjab University administration to get results of its choice on the issue. According to him, some teachers, on account of personal and professional jealousy, are trying to damage the image of the university.
"I stand by my young teachers who are being accused of plagiarism," he declares, "I think they did not do it intentionally, and I admire the decision of the varsity syndicate."
Haris Rasheed is also a member of the syndicate. According to him, some elements are trying to gain political interests out of the issue and that is why a 'media hype' has been created. This is not a 'serious' issue to be covered in the media so extensively, he says.
"The HEC has 56 pending cases of plagiarism against teachers and students of different education institutions of the country but they are only concentrating on the Punjab University while other cases have not even been disclosed to the media," he continues, "The newly appointed teachers of CHEP are being victimised because they do not come from 'strong' families."
Dr Sohail Naqi, executive director HEC does not agree with Haris Rasheed's point of view and thinks they are only trying to politicise the issue.
The HEC is also contemplating similar sanctions against University of Sindh, Jamshoro, where an associate professor and PhD research scholar is accused of plagiarising from a foreign research article, he says. "Only last year a faculty member of International Islamic University Islamabad was forced to resign on similar allegations due to strong stance of the HEC."
Art for the sake of people
'13 Satellites of Lahore', a collection of art pieces displayed at Annemarie Schimmel Haus, Lahore celebrates the idea of public space and interaction with ordinary people
By Quddus Mirza
We are living in quaint times. Strange things are happening in the political realm. Pent up emotions, issues and frustrations have come out. These images have now been seen so often that they have lost the element of oddity or mystery.
In a situation where the national affairs are being settled in the public sphere, the concept of public art holds a special significance. Initially art had been part of the public domain, whether it was a mural in the church, statue in a square or sacred text carved in the mosque. But with the rise of modernism, art was seen and practiced as an exclusive activity, mainly for a select audience, which enjoys, understands and appreciates and even collects it.
This has denied art its heroic role of being an activity shared by a large milieu and now majority of artists perceive their own practice as no more than manufacturing domestic items in order to please the customers.
In the contemporary world, we have two kinds of public spaces. One, in its physical and orthodox sense, is the area which lies outside the house and the private gallery; and the other exists as virtual reality -- on the TV, Internet and other forms of media. In that sense the older concept of public space and its distinction from private space is not applicable any more. Now the screen of a monitor -- of either a TV set or computer -- can present and encompass enormous space. Therefore the previous notion of breaking the confinements of private spaces and moving out into public area, needs to be reconsidered, since an idea or image transmitted through the media reaches a wider public than an actual work placed in open space.
Yet for some artists, the traditional segregation of public and private spaces still holds relevance. For them the concept of public space is sacred since it provides an occasion to move away from the tyranny of market that manifests itself in the form of private galleries, limited viewers and privileged connoisseurs. In contrast to that, a work conceived and created in the public arena is meant to have a direct connection with the general public (even though the general likes to keep himself away and distinct from the public!). Thus the subject, medium, technique and scale of the public works may differ from conventional paintings, sculptures, drawings and prints suited for a gallery or a private house.
This approach was visible in the project called '13 Satellites of Lahore' that took place recently in the city. Its 20 participants (from two art institutions in Karachi and two in Lahore) worked in the city. The documentation and some samples of their works were displayed for one day on April 10 at the Annemarie Schimmel Haus in Lahore. The location of these participants' works varied from the Mall Road, Jain Mandir, Fruit Market, to the wrestlers ring in Urdu Bazaar, and other parts of the town.
The exhibition consisted of videos, prints and photographs of the works scattered at various sites. These works, apart from being outside the private spaces, dealt with different ideas that ranged from religious, political, social and aesthetic issues. Among these works, a few pieces appeared to be addressing the question of public participation in the act of making and viewing art, while others focused on gender and some were related to local customs and traditions.
A number of these works highlighted immediate political problems, whereas several others concentrated on the secret history of our desires.
Still all of these operated on one presumption -- that artists must approach public space in order to include and interact with ordinary people, who are not the normal audience or usual consumers of 'high art'. Therefore in majority of these works, the yearning to communicate -- rather bringing art to the uninitiated -- was apparent. This was visible in the works by Ayesha Jatoi, Hurmat ul Ain and Rabia Tariq. A few other artists tried to intervene in the public space through small gestures, for instance Sahar Rashid stuck telephone numbers on fruits, on which people could call, and Ahmed Azmi constructed cut outs of a graduating couple, in which people could get themselves photographed.
The politically oriented works -- probably by their nature or due to the 'necessity' of public art -- were the most obvious pieces in the whole project. Nida Bangash wrote lines of political text on a section of Mall Road and a group of participants acted as democrats and dictators in a restaurant. However in comparison to these loud but ironically not successfully communicated -- since the politically loaded lines were perceived as the obsession of a mad man by a newspaper reporter -- pieces, the calligraphy/graffiti work of Muzzamil Raheel was poignant in its meanings and form. Inspired from the usual wall chalkings, which start with the words 'chalo, chalo' and invite public to some rally or demonstration, he wrote the word 'chalo' in a sequence on the wall, without indicating the destiny. That was an apt comment upon the directionless nature of our political parties.
Probably apart from Muzzamil's works, majority of works in the '13 satellite' project revealed our artists' assumption of being part of the public; however one needs to examine the real effect or impact of their endeavours in the public sphere.
As in most cases, being in public does not elevate a practitioner from the shackles of art system. The allure of the art world pulls him back, and his attempt to intervene in the public space turns into a way of 'using' it for a different kind of aesthetic -- that is still viable, meaningful and catered for the limited art audience. Therefore, the display at the Annemarie Schimmel Haus did not seem to be the documentation or presentation of pieces, it became an exhibition of art works by itself.
Perhaps that hidden danger in the fanciful engagement with public art was unearthed by another participant, Iqra Tanweer. In her video piece, she placed herself at the four sites of this public art project and recited a line in Urdu that meant, 'Public art is a form of art that considering the public space, makes it possible that art reaches to public', in a loop. The continuity of her recitation was a way of challenging the relevance of public art and the belief in its link to ordinary persons. In fact the repeated proclamation of the line was a comment upon the rest of the works from '13 Satellite', which tried to reach to public, yet revolved around our tiny art world.
On a high note
This year the All Pakistan Music Conference entertained the audiences with some outstanding performances
By Bilal Tanweer
Last week, the five day annual All Pakistan Music Conference (APMC) came to a close rather dramatically. At around 5 am, the lights went out, but the performer, Ustad Fateh Ali Khan (Gwalior gharana), stayed put and carried on singing without the electronic gadgetry. The audience, instead of leaving, moved close to the stage and encouraged the performer to continue amidst the silence of the early morning. When the power came back, many were disappointed, for they had become accustomed to the early morning ambience and Ustad Fateh Ali Khan's voice.
On the last day of the festival this year, the turnout built up to a full-house at the Open Air Auditorium, Bagh-e-Jinnah, at around midnight.
This year, as always, the festival was divided between amateur and professional performers. During the earlier performances, even though the turnout was low and the mood was dull, there were some outstanding exhibitions by the performers. Haider Rahman's flute performance, and Aqeel Manzur's Thumri in Pahari and Mohsin Naqvi's ghazal, 'teher jao ke hairani to jaye', compelled the audience to sit up and take notice. A number of performers from the other side of the border also performed to entertain the audience.
Among the professional performers, two who stood out were Ashraf Shareef Khan (son of the legendary sitar player, Shareef Khan Poonchwala), who had come all the way from Germany to perform at the event, and Sara Zaman. Sara Zaman stumbled earlier in her performance, but soon picked up her chords and sung to enthrall the audience. Asad Qizalbash's Sarod was also among one of the better performances.
Due to the death of Asad Amanat Ali Khan on April 8, performers from the Patiyala gharana, Hamid Ali Khan, Ustad Fateh Ali Khan and Rustam Fateh Ali Khan, who have been the major of the highlights of the APMC Festival, did not make an appearance. The other noticeable absence was that of Fareeda Khanum.
Perhaps one of the finest things about the APMC's events is the way organisers consciously work to maintain the proper decorum and spirit of traditional music. The entry to the performances is free and open to everyone, but no unruliness or unethical behaviour is tolerated. And alongside the performances, the audience, many of whom are young and new to eastern classical music, is made aware of the 'adaab' that are a part of this genre and need to be followed when listening to such music.
The sense of openness and a multi-class ethos are, indeed, one of the hallmarks APMC's events. So along with the internationally renowned figures like Tariq Ali sat people from all classes and backgrounds. In other cities of this country, such a gathering seems unfathomable now. There, cultural events, besides being extremely few and far between, are strictly restricted to members of the elite class. In Lahore, thankfully, things remain different. And we have APMC to thank for rendering such a service to classical music in this part of the world.
National Youth Performing Arts Festival provides a good training ground with freedom to experiment
By Sarwat Ali
The first criteria of consistency have been met with by the Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop as the National Youth Performing Arts Festival held at the Alhamra Cultural Complex was the sixth festival in the series that was initiated in 2001.
In the other festivals which have been held so far, like those by the Pakistan National Council of the Arts or the Lahore Arts Council, inconsistency has been a major failing. Since theatre festivals have not been held with any degree of regularity they lose their critical edge but this organisation till now has not faltered on this count.
The festival, apart from theatrical performances, also included dance performances from home and abroad. Dance had been made into a sensitive issue but now thankfully it is emerging from the shadow of unnecessary controversy to be recognised again as an above board art form. Encouragingly enough, many groups participated in the festival. The dances were classical as well as contemporary; the performances of mime were laced with a bit of storylines. A dance company from Croatia with four female dancers during its performance explored areas not traditionally associated with dance. Some groups in Pakistan too have persisted with dance despite discouragement from the official circles and hostility from sections of the population. Mazmoon-e-Shauq from Islamabad performed as did dancers Umair Ali, Mohsin, Suhaee, Mubashir and Manasi.
The festival also included Music Night where all kinds of music was played. If there were classical items by local artists like Rakee Jamil on the sitar and Hyder Rehman on the flute, there were also many groups and bands that performed with the zest and involvement usually associated with popular music. It is amazing how many music groups and bands there are among the youth in the country. One wonders where they rehearse and play but give them an opportunity and they surface in large numbers. Probably the television music channels play host to nearly all these new groups by offering them a platform and an audience that transcends political boundaries.
The festival has also, to a degree, lived up to its claim of being a national festival as groups from other parts of the country performed. The plays included 'Oas Gali Na Jawaan' by National College of Arts, Rawalpindi, 'Talash-e-Gumshuda' by Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute, 'Kuttay' by Bahauddin Zikria University, Multan, 'Bahar Aye' by Indusians also from Multan, 'Nemesis' by Fatima Jinnah University from Rawalpindi, 'Shubbo Ka Dil Kis Key Pass Hai?', by Institute of Business and Management from Karachi, 'Irene' by Naveed-e-Nau Theatre Group from Karachi, 'Wings' by Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture from Karachi, 'Akhiaan Walio' by Pattan Lok Nattak from Karachi, 'What are you Looking At?' Black Fish from Karachi and 'Khoya Hua Aadmi' by Fankaar Theatres , Karachi.
From Lahore there were 'Threadmill and Mime' by National College of Arts, 'Gal Nikki Jai' by City School, 'Marvi' by Salamat ICAS, 'Pardey Ke Pecheey Kia Hai?" by Lahore College of Arts and Sciences, 'Kafan' by University of Engineering and Technology, 'Victoria Beckhan Has Migraine', by Sodaberg Dance Academy, 'Tons of Money' by Aitchison College, 'Hatak','Tarana Teen', 'Audience' and 'Kyun' by Lahore Grammar School, 'The Unforgiven' by Concept Field, 'Sanjeeda Khail' by University College of Arts and Design, 'Mikado' by City School, 'Wisaaq' by Beacon House National University and 'Lion King' by Salamat ICAS.
The youth do not have the opportunities that they should ideally have to first discover and then foster that talent. With the opening of the schools and colleges in the private sector extra curricular activity has come under the spotlight and now these institutions stress more on theatre, music and even dance. It is hoped that with more activity at the amateur level the groundswell will shape the standard and quality of plays that are being staged at the professional level as well.
It is not necessary that groups participate in the festivals with new productions. Most of the plays staged had been staged earlier by these groups, either as part of their college activity or independent ventures. A few of the plays also had original scripts.
The need to have original playwrights has never been greater and despite a great number of plays very few new plays are written. In the commercial circuit probably the high cost of production is the most prohibitive factor in experimentation. Such festivals where the young and the daring participate can be a good training ground for original writings for the stage as well. It gives the opportunity to tread safely between didacticism and abstraction.
The Alhamra Arts Council has now a more accommodating policy of working with outside groups. In the past the stress was more on its own productions and those were few and far between. The halls were made operative by renting them out but now there seem to be few takers for hiring these halls. Alhamra should fully utilise its space by continuing with the same policy and mounting its own productions or asking groups to mount their productions, picking up the cost of production as well, other than only renting out the hall either free of cost or on nominal charges.
After a recent brief stopover in Dubai, we had a second, longer, stopover for recreation and tourism. I have to admit I am now fascinated by the place and the manic pace at which it continues to expand.
First of all we took the children to the huge 'Wild Wadi Water Park' where in the name of family unity and bonding with the children, my spouse and I submitted ourselves to some truly painful water slides and other wild rides. I might have had a bruised backside at the end of the day but the children were quite ecstatic so we, the foolish parents, were happy.
As if Wild Wadi was not enough, we then spent some time on possibly the most fabulous fantasy resort in the world, i.e Dubai's Madina Jumeira. This is a most fantastic creation: a resort made up of hotels, villas and restaurants and linked by beautiful waterways, filled with sea water, that is recirculated from the sea everyday.
You travel from site to site on quaint boats called abrasand everything is quite idyllic. The architecture is stunning, the interiors opulent and the whole complex is just astonishingly maintained. Madina Jumeira was of course packed: there were tourists from all over the world and no wonder: the beach is beautiful and the facilities astoundingly good.
After this, more tourism followed in the form of a 'desert safari'. We were collected in a toyota landcruiser and then with a group of about 20 other vehicles we headed to the desert for 'dune bashing' -- driving up and down the sand dunes like giddy teenagers. After this we did a spot of sandboarding and some people went for camel rides.
We were then taken to a 'campsite' where we sat under the stars and were given a barbecue dinner followed by a display of belly dancing by a girl who looked as if she was from eastern Europe and had learned the dance from old Hollywood movies! Apart from her, all the other people on the tour seemed to be from Pakistan: the drivers, guides, cooks and even the 'henna lady' were all our compatriots!
Of course another thing we did was to visit the various shopping malls of the city, the most interesting of which were the Emirates mall with the large ski slope, complete with 'snow', chair lift and everything, and the Ibn Batuta mall which has sections decorated to show the areas to which famous 13th century travellers ventured.
I am still bemused by the city and the way the whole of it is functioning as one large tourism and investment venture. Everything is planned to be bigger and better than anywhere else.
I was also able to learn a little more about the UAE, a federation formed of 7 emirates --Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm al Qaiwain, Ras al Kaimah and Fujairah, as recently as 1971. The federation was formed due to the sudden British withdrawal from the Gulf and the resulting geopolitical considerations, mainly to do with oil interests. Few people thought that such a federation of Arabs had much chance, but the UAE seems to have proven them wrong 36 years on.